Six months till the election: the potential presidential candidates so far

With Fernández remaining evasive and Macri officially out, here’s the current shortlist

There are six months to go until Argentina’s general elections. With some of the nation’s most influential leaders refusing to say yet whether they’ll run, politics is buzzing with speculation about which names will end up on the ballot.

Presidential tickets have to be presented between May 15 and June 24 – which means that prospective candidates can (and some will) wait right until that last day to officialize their run for the Casa Rosada. But that doesn’t mean that jockeying for position – the rosca política – hasn’t started: many opposition candidates have already declared whether they plan to compete in the presidential primary elections on August 13.

With President Alberto Fernández remaining elusive about whether or not he’ll run and several opposition candidates jostling for position, here’s what we know so far about who could be on the ballot in October’s elections. 

Frente de Todos 

So far, nobody from the ruling coalition has confirmed that they will run, although some names are being tossed about, while others have dropped hints. These are the people that analysts, political commentators, and we at the Herald think you should be watching.

Founded in 2019 by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to beat then-president Mauricio Macri, FdT has been beset by infighting. For now, the coalition’s leaders have indicated that they will remain united as an electoral coalition.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

Vice President and former president (2007-2015)

CFK said she wouldn’t run for the presidency, or any kind of elected office, after receiving a six-year prison sentence and a lifelong ban from public office in the Vialidad corruption case.

The sentences do not take effect until she has exhausted the lengthy appeals process, meaning she is unlikely to face legal barriers.

Kirchnerite movement La Cámpora is continuing to call on CFK to run again, in a move dubbed the “clamor operation”, but whether she will heed their siren song remains to be seen.

Cristina remains one of the most influential politicians of the last 30 years, and many credit her and her late husband, Néstor, for leading the country to prosperity after the devastating economic crisis of 2001-2002. But many of her detractors view her as venal and corrupt, making her a highly controversial choice.

Although she has remained silent about it over the last few months, many expect her to appoint a candidate that represents “her faction” within peronism, such as Buenos Aires province governor Axel Kicillof, Interior Minister Wado de Pedro or Chaco governor Jorge Capitanich. They have neither confirmed nor denied their will to run.

Alberto Fernández

Current president of Argentina

The President has repeatedly said he believes Frente de Todos candidates should compete in primaries against each other. He has hinted he would be willing to run for a second term, but responded evasively when asked outright: in a recent interview in El Método Rebord, he said that his priority is finding the best candidate to beat JxC. 

“I want the Frente de Todos to win: it could be me, it could be someone else,” Fernández said. 

If Fernández does throw his name in the ring, he would enjoy the advantages of incumbency – but he has also been struggling with low approval ratings amid fighting within the coalition and sky-high inflation that’s nibbling away at salaries.

Daniel Scioli 

Argentine ambassador to Brazil

Scioli ran for president in 2015 with the Frente para la Victoria, a kirchnerist front that later became part of the FdT, and lost to Mauricio Macri in the run-off. In March 2020, he was appointed Argentina’s ambassador to Brazil, interrupted by a brief spell as Production Minister in 2022. 

With a long political career within Peronism, Scioli was Nestor Kirchner’s Vice President (2003-2007) then Buenos Aires Province governor (2007-2015). Two years after losing to Macri, in 2017, he became a deputy for BA province.

Last February, he published an open letter called “You can count on me”, stating he would be willing to have another shot at the top job. 

His position could prove key in a period where Argentina’s relationship with Brazil and the newly-reelected Lula will be crucial, amid ambitious joint projects including the Sur currency, connecting Brazil to Argentina’s gas network, and reforming UNASUR. 

However, his face is less familiar after several years out of the country and he might struggle to muster the leadership necessary for a serious presidential bid.

Sergio Massa

Economy Minister of Argentina

Praised by the President recently for agreeing to lead the Economy Minister after Martín Guzmán’s dramatic post-IMF deal exit last year, Massa became visible in politics when he became CFK’s Chief of Staff in 2008. But he separated from her party in 2013, founding the Frente Renovador, which is now a part of the Frente de Todos coalition. The FR is a center party that had a good relationship with the Macri administration. 

Over the years, Sergio Massa has gained sympathy from characters from across the political spectrum and is an establishment-friendly politician, which, to some, makes him eligible to become a president at a time of financial controversy. He has also developed ties with various U.S. politicians, such as Juan Gonzalez, the National Security Council’s Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere and an assistant to the president.

However, onlookers say his appeal at the ballot box could depend on how the economy performs under his stewardship – and with February inflation hitting 6.6% amid a ruinous drought, his aim for April inflation to “start with a 3” is likely out of reach. 

Axel Kicillof 

Buenos Aires Province Governor 

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner appointed Kicillof as candidate for governor in 2019.  He was her Economy Minister between 2013 and 2015 under CFK’s second presidency and has spent most of his political career under her command. Kicillof has been and still is her primary economic advisor.

Given the coalition’s need for victory in the Buenos Aires Province, it is unclear whether he will run for president in light of the rocky landscape for the FdT: Peronism cannot risk losing the district with the most voters in 2023 if the Casa Rosada is at stake, and the City of Buenos Aires has widely chosen JxC candidates since 2007. 

Juntos por el Cambio

The opposition coalition’s lineup is better defined. With Mauricio Macri’s announcement on March 26 that he wouldn’t run, five candidates have confirmed their will to run.

Horacio Rodríguez Larreta

Buenos Aires City Mayor

With the #Hora2023 campaign, Rodríguez Larreta launched his presidential bid on February 22. He is considered a moderate within JxC, a coalition that covers the center-right to the far-right political spectrum. In 2023, he will finish his second consecutive mandate as a Buenos Aires City Mayor. 

His image as a forward-thinking modernizer who seeks to bridge the political divide has won the favor of some international analysts. However, it is unclear who he will run with and which alliances he will pull within the coalition to secure the votes to make it past the primaries.

Elisa Carrió 

Former Senator

Founder of the Civic Coalition, a moderate party within JxC, Elisa Carrió announced on February 9 that she will compete in the presidential run, launching her campaign “after May”. Given the size and support for her party, she is not expected to win, a fact she herself has acknowledged. 

Patricia Bullrich

President of PRO and former Security Minister of Macri´s administration

The president of Republican Proposal (PRO), JxC’s main party, and former Security Minister of Mauricio Macri represents the hard right of the coalition. A dynamic character, Bullrich was a member of the Montoneros Peronist guerrilla during the 1970s, a member of the “Unión Cívica Radical” party’s coalition La Alianza at the end of the 1990s, and is remembered by many as the Labor Minister responsible for cutting all State employees’ salaries and pensions by 13% before the 2001 crisis. 

In her role as Security Minister during the Macri administration, she pushed tough policies on crime and insecurity, as well as voicing support for police use of force and the use of armed forces to repress protests. 

Bullrich hasn’t formally announced her campaign yet, although she has repeatedly hinted she expects to become president. 

Gerardo Morales 

Governor of Jujuy province

On March 16, Jujuy governor and Radical Civic Union (UCR) party president Gerardo Morales launched his presidential bid at an event in Gran Rex theater in Buenos Aires, surrounded by party leaders and representatives.

With the slogan “turning Argentina around”, the provincial leader took aim at the Frente de Todos government, saying it would leave the country “upside down”. He called President Alberto Fernández “the worst [President] in history” and accused his government of failing to prioritize the fight against “corruption and impunity”.

María Eugenia Vidal 

Deputy for the City of Buenos Aires and former BA Province governor

Deputy and former Buenos Aires provincial governor between 2015 and 2019, María Eugenia Vidal, has made clear her desire to lead the country. “I want to be President,” she said on April 4 at an event in Entre Ríos. However, she added, it’s “not the right time” to announce it formally yet as people are getting “angrier and increasingly tired” of politics.

La Libertad Avanza 

Javier Milei

Deputy for the City of Buenos Aires

Famous for raffling off his government salary because he sees receiving cash from the state as illegitimate, Javier Milei is a far-right libertarian economist and founder of the coalition La Libertad Avanza. A deputy since 2021, Milei advocates for minimal State and the elimination of taxes and currency policies. His party opposes social movements and demands like feminism, climate activism, indigenous rights, and social welfare programs for the most vulnerable. 

Milei scornfully refers to career politicians as “the caste” and has claimed that if he were to become president, he’d “burn down the Central Bank”. 

Between his ire at the status quo and his leather jacket-clad rockstar image, analysts say Milei captures the fury of a generation that feels it’s been let down by both the mainstream left and the mainstream right. However, he’s already been caught a couple of times availing himself of the government funds he supposedly sees as ill-gotten gains. He’s also set alarm bells ringing by defending organ sales and the “right” to die of hunger.

To secure the seats he’d need to win, he would likely need to make precisely the kind of political alliances and compromises that would bring him into “the caste”. 

Smaller parties

José Luis Espert 

Deputy for the Province of Buenos Aires

A liberal economist and a deputy for the Buenos Aires Province with the coalition Avanza Libertad, not to be confused with the similarly-named party run by Milei, Espert ran in 2019 and received 1.47% of the votes. 

At the end of March this year, he announced that he is in talks with members of the opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) to join forces with them ahead of this year’s election. He has confirmed to the Herald that he expects to run as a presidential candidate. 

The Left and Worker’s Front

The Frente de Izquierda y Trabajadores (FIT) is a leftist coalition with four deputies in the Lower House. In the 2015 and 2019 elections, deputy Nicolás del Caño ran as a presidential candidate, but he received just 2% and 3% of the votes, respectively. 


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald